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Douglass virtues in narrative of the life of frederick douglass

Kris Yee Frederick Douglass: In his account, Douglass reflects on the character of one of his former mistresses, saying: Slavery proved as injurious to her as it did to me. When I went there, she was a pious, warm, and tender-hearted woman. There was no sorrow or suffering for which she had not a tear. She had bread for the hungry, clothes for the naked, and comfort for every mourner that came within her reach.

Slavery soon proved its ability to divest her of these heavenly qualities.

Frederick Douglass: The Habit of Virtue and Vice

Under its influence, the tender heart became stone, and the lamblike disposition gave way to one of tiger-like fierceness. Virtue is a habit. For those unfamiliar, Aristotle argues that virtue is developed over time and every unique instance of virtuous action builds up virtuous habit. Rather than a one-off qualitative statement about an action, as Kant would declare, virtue is a functional state of character. The virtuous man is made virtuous by virtuous habit.

This makes sense of things like diet and exercise.

Frederick Douglass: The Habit of Virtue and Vice

There are very few things more difficult than the drudging second week of a new work-out plan. Once the excitement of beginning a new thing has worn off, there is very little left to keep you focused on your goals.

The habit of reaching for a cookie or hitting the snooze button in the morning when you should be getting up to run is ingrained in you. Over time, however, new habits develop, and eating healthier and exercising become much more natural and easy.

Vice is a habit. From the section provided, we see that the habituation of vice douglass virtues in narrative of the life of frederick douglass such that it can even overcome habituated virtues.

Frederick Douglass: The Habit of Virtue and Vice

The vicious quality necessary to hold slaves does not need much elucidation. These continuous actions over time cannot but lead to an overarching change of character.

To practice cruelty over and over again makes one cruel, and to pretend rightful authority over the very will of another human being douglass virtues in narrative of the life of frederick douglass one proud and haughty.

The soul cannot be fractioned. Throughout the slave-owning South, ministers and men of the church held slaves with wanton cruelty and yet preached Christ crucified on Sundays. This is not how vice works. You cannot justify your wickedness in one area of your life by utilitarian pragmatism and expect it not to make its way into the rest of your existence.

Aristotle does not distinguish between man as businessman, man as statesman, and man as family man. There are no special exceptions to the rigid dictate of moral formation through the habituation of virtue. Wickedness makes its way into every part of the soul, corrupting its virtues and replacing them with vice.

This is why vice must be rejected in all forms.

16 Frederick Douglass quotes

We cannot put up with some of it, arguing that it is for the greater good or to fulfill a grander purpose. We cannot nurture secret addictions, secret hate, secret greed, and expect it not to worm its way into other areas of our lives.

The soul is one, and the virtue or vice with which we habituate it affects every facet of our lives. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.